Hmcs Iris

17th September 2005, 02:36
My father served aboard the cable maintainence ship Iris and I have a copy of one of his discharge certificates dated 1922. I believe she was built in 1902 by DJ Dunlop & Co. Glasgow, My father served in the 1st World War and would have joined her around 1919-20. I believe as a cable maintenence ship her home port would have been Auckland NZ. I do not know what happened to her although there could have been a name change to Recorder. I have a very poor photo of her but would like to know more of her life and where she finished up.By all accounts she was owned by the Pacific Cable Board which represented the Dominion Governments hence the HMCS prefix. I gather this was the forerunner of Cable & Wireless.

Bruce Carson
17th September 2005, 03:36
There's a short history and a photo of her as the 'Recorder' here:

She is depicted on a Norfolk Islands stamp:

Bruce C.

17th September 2005, 21:11
Yes, Thank you Bruce, I have read both of those accounts, my father was born on Norfolk and I am uncertain weather he joined the Iris there or in Auckland, he used to refer to Fanning Island where there was also a cable station the same as Norfolk, I only wish I had taken more notice..

15th March 2009, 05:05
Chipity wrote about his father was born on Norfolk and a member of the crew of the Iris "... he used to refer to Fanning Island where there was also a cable station the same as Norfolk, I only wish I had taken more notice..."

There is a picture of HMC Iris at Fanning Island (south of Hawaii) in 1914 on the Australian War Memorial collection at . The Iris was there to repair the Pacific cable at the Fanning relay after deliberate cable damage by the German ship Nurnberg.

"The Iris was built to maintain the 1902 Trans Pacific Cable and owned by the Pacific Cable Board, which represented the Dominion governments, so she carried the prefix HMCS, (His/Her Majesty's Cable Ship), the first to do so. Fitted with four cable tanks, two forward and two aft, combined paying out-picking up machine forward and a paying out machine aft, triple bow sheaves and single stern sheave.

Transferred to Imperial & International Communications Ltd. in 1929 and renamed Recorder (2). Based at Auckland until the outbreak of war and then transferred to Singapore. After the fall of Singapore moved to Gibraltar and then to Aden. Underwent an extensive refit in 1947 and finally taken out of service in 1952 and sold for scrap. "

I am interested in this ship too as the Commander for it's first 20 years was a relative, Captain William Richard Holmes. He was born in in 1862 in Hayle, Cornwall and worked for Marconi on his yacht Elettra. Capt Holmes' daughter was born in 1898 at La Spezia, near Genoa where Marconi had gone in 1897 to oversee the building of a land station in his early experiments with wireless transmission. Captain Holmes' brother-in-law, Frank Newman, an electrical engineer, also worked for Marconi on the Isle of Wight experiments in 1901 and in the relay station in Crookhaven, Ireland, during the famous trans-Atlantic transmission in 1901.

As Commander of the Iris over 20 years Capt Holmes oversaw both the 1914 repair of the cable at Fanning Island and in 1917 the recapture of von Luckner, commander of the Seeadler, who had entered Auckland Harbour NZ, was captured and held at Motuihe Island from where he escaped. The hastily armed HMC Iris recaptured von Luckner at the Kermadec Islands. See

In none of these accounts do I see the Captain Holmes' name mentioned. So I'm putting it here for the record! He retired to Bucklands Beach, near Auckland NZ and died there in 1940.

Am interested if anyone has further information about Captain W R Holmes or HMC Iris.